Polar bear conservation centre to get first wild bear
Published Saturday, September 28, 2013 3:40PM CST
Last Updated Saturday, September 28, 2013 5:26PM CST
A Winnipeg man who was attacked by a polar bear on a street in Churchill says he is relieved to hear the animal won’t be put down. Instead, it will be the newest resident in the polar bear exhibit at the Assiniboine Park Zoo.
Garrett Kolsun narrowly escaped the bear when he encountered it while walking home earlier this month.
“I was glad to hear it was going to be given a second chance because polar bears are majestic animals and it’s nice to see that they’re going to make every effort to rehabilitate this animal and bring it into Winnipeg,” he said.
Conservation officials originally thought they would have to euthanize the animal but worked out an arrangement to bring it here. It will become the first wild bear to be a part of the park's polar bear conservation centre.
"It's incredibly exciting and we've been waiting, really since we completed this facility over a year ago. This is what it was made for," said Margaret Redmond, president of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy.
Kolsun said he looks forward to encountering the bear again, this time with a barrier between them. "It's always a pleasure to see polar bears,” said Kolsun. “They are beautiful animals and it will be nice for my kid to see him."
Zoo officials said the bear will undergo a long adjustment period before it is introduced to the public. They expect the bear to move into its new digs at the zoo sometime in the next month.
"So, over time as they get used to being around keepers and vets, and then slowly we'll introduce them to the public to be sure we don't put too much stress on them all at once," said Redmond.
Hudson is currently the only polar bear in residence at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. It's unclear exactly how he'll respond to his new wild counterpart. It will take some time for zoo officials to assess whether the two should ever meet.
Right now, the bear is being kept at a polar bear holding facility in Churchill.
- With a report by Ben Miljure